Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post
Here, saucy creamed spinach is served topped with chicken, promoting it from the occasional steakhouse side dish to the star of the plate for a healthful, quick, one-pan meal. The spinach is made luscious with flour-thickened low-fat milk — no cream needed — along with savory Parmesan cheese and fragrant, floral basil to infuse the leafy vegetable with sumptuous flavor. Storage Notes: Leftover spinach and chicken can be refrigerated, in separate containers, for up to 3 days.
4 pieces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), pounded to 1/2-inch thick
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 3/4 cups cold low-fat milk
1 cup diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
Two (10-ounce) packages chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. (If you need to work in batches, cook 2 pieces of chicken in 1 tablespoon of oil each time.)
While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl or pitcher, whisk the flour into the milk until completely dissolved.
In the same skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the spinach and basil and cook, stirring, until warmed through and combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Re-whisk the flour-milk mixture and add it to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and saucy, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and add any accumulated juices from the plate of cooked chicken to the pan.
To serve, spoon about 3/4 cup of the creamed spinach onto each serving plate, top each with a piece of chicken and garnish with basil leaves.
Per serving: Calories 440; Total Fat 20g; (Sat Fat 5g); Protein 44g; Carb 22g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 109mg; Sodium 601mg; Total Sugar 3g